BlueLink's Strategy for 2017 - 2020
The new midterm strategy of BlueLiink is entitled "Supporting Voice". It was adopted in principle by the Foundation's Council of the Founders on November 4, 2017 and completed by the newly elected Executive Board (EB). EB members for the perod of the implementation of the strategy are: Natalia Dimitrova-Popova (Chair); Milena Dimitrova; and Pavel Antonov, Executive Editor of BlueLink. The strategy's implementation co-incides with BlueLink's 20th anniversary.
At 20 a young person is prepared to engage responsibly with the world and society as an adult. BlueLink enters 2018 with two decades of unique regional experience in supporting e-networking and free information exchange to foster civil society, democracy, environmental sustainability and progressive European values. We are now equipped with sufficient knowledge to analytically understand today’s challenges for our mission, substantial expertise to face them, and an operational international team to carry the effort in the coming years. BlueLink’s strategic plan for 2018 - 2020 outlines the problems to be tackled and the areas of action we intend to take.
Democracy under threat
The pressing problems that need to be addressed are interconnected. They do not affect only Bulgaria or the post-socialist countries of Europe. Even the ability of the EU to retain its global leadership in progressive social development is at stake. Unsustainable economic and social models impose commercialism, mass consumption and legitimize greed and profit making at all cost.
Traditionally competing political world-views and ideologies are watered down, rendered meaningless by kleptocratic opportunistic political and business leaders. Through mass media and social networks they weaken public awareness and support for protection of vital common resources - including the natural environment.
New norms dominate mainstream public and political communications that involve:
- denial of knowledge - about environmental changes, human rights abuses, poverty, social inequity, war;
- denial of responsibility for the political, business and individual actions that lead to them;
- intolerance, hatred and outright aggression against vulnerable groups and minorities; and
- denial of anyone’s right to protect them.
These are enabled by gradual loss of information plurality and responsible journalism. Mass and social media communication channels whose property is increasingly consolidated in fewer hands, subject growing audiences to manipulation and propaganda. New media business models compromise ethical journalism and replace it by fake news, fake image and fake reality construction services. These make excessive use of the internet, quickly shading its genuinely democratizing potential.
People’s democratic means for protecting their common resources and interests are also weakened. Bad governance, favouritism, nepotism, and corruption suffocate rule of law and free market mechanisms. Institutions and mechanisms of democracy and public participation - where they exist - are captured, paralysed or dismantled. The same happens to gatekeepers such as: watchdog journalists; whistleblowers and critical progressive civil society representatives.
While these problems are visible primarily on national and local level, the ability of EU institutions to interfere is limited. United Europe’s commitments to democracy, human and minority rights, social equity, solidarity, health and environment, are under attack - not only across Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) but also in countries with stronger democratic traditions.
What shall we do about this?
To address these challenges during 2018 - 2020 BlueLink will pursue targeted action in the following areas:
- Support for watchdog journalism and launching an independent journalistic medium. We shall maintain and extend the virtual newsroom, both nationally and regionally in English (and possibly other languages), train and employ independent journalists, willing to work in public interest, and look for possibilities to extend the audiences of our editorial work.
- Support for citizens’ participation in decision making, access to justice, information and government transparency and networking for progressive democratic social change. Further resistance against legislative, institutional and media pressure against progressive democratic civil society.
- E-communications and analytical support for civil society and public advocacy initiatives that correspond to BlueLink’s mission and promote solutions for the problems, listed above. These include watching and monitoring corruption, industry interference in democratic institutions (e.g. mining, extractive, tobacco or arms industries), transparency, independent journalism, freedom of internet, human rights, furthering progressive green economic and social visions.
- Fostering strategic networking and partnerships between different sectors of progressive democratic civil society, social movements, active citizens, supportive institutions, and businesses.
- Practical research to extend knowledge of the problems, listed above, and identify effective solutions for them.
The geographic coverage of BlueLink’s work will extend from Bulgaria across CEE and the EU - reaching out for global partnerships. For this purpose we shall use actively our memberships in national and international entities such as the European Justice and Environment Network, the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum, and the Association for Progressive Communications.